Today I took a trip out to the westend for the first time since I developed Tourettes, became a wheelchair user & post covid I saw Lion King with my family and old PA & I thought it might be useful for me to share my experiences!! I hadn’t seen Lion King since I was about 5/6 so it was really good to see it again as I didn’t really remember it at all! I forgot how much I love the theatre - it’s so expensive for disabled people but we did take advantage of having a discounted carer ticket so my PA could come with me- I know how much days out can be anxiety provoking for disabled people so I thought I’d chat through how the day was for anyone interested!
Now I chatted to a lovely lovely member of staff who had an invisible disability- she said the theatre had actually recently hired 5 disabled members of staff which was great to hear interms of a step in a right direction for being more inclusive and understanding of disabled people. I gave her a bit of a quiz on accessibility- in particular seating options, as although I am a wheelchair user, I am an ambulatory wheelchair user which means I am able to walk- i’m conscious not everyone can and transferring to the seats etc may have been difficult.
She mentioned there were 2 seats on the back row which were removable whereby wheelchairs can take place of the seats which may work better for some disabled people- I personally think this would work better for me but I don’t really like the idea of being on the back row- it feels like I’d be a bit out of it. Maybe a disabled booth or section or few rows closer to the front that could act similarly would be a good idea?
She also suggested slotting in behind all the seats - but again we both agreed this wasn’t the most ideal scenario- but did work for people with large powerchairs.
Slight issues with my seating arrangement:
- Pain, after a while I was in a lot of pain in the seat- if you have any spinal issues or chronic pain - just something to bare in mind, they’re cinema style seats that fold up.
- If I needed my wheelchair to go to the toilet in the interval or during the performance I have to ask permission- I would have to attempt to flag down a member of staff which may be difficult particularly for a disabled person in the dark while the show is going on who may not be able to walk or may be accompanied by another disabled person.
- If I was desperate for the toilet in an emergency with a bladder or bowel condition it appeared that the disabled toilets were also the unisex toilets in the stalls.
- Could one disabled toilet be a radar key system?
- When people stood at the end to clap, those who are unable to stand cannot see what‘s happening on stage. perhaps an extra end seat for wheelchair users within the audience so it didn’t cause fire hazards could be good?
Positives of my seating arrangement:
- Lots of leg room
- Great View
- Option of an isle seat
- I felt like I could sit with my family & the audience and be part of the show without feeling ‘different’.
- The red pull cords in both toilets weren’t to the floor but was told they were being sorted!
- There was an entrance specifically for disabled people to skip queues and avoid steps!
- I’m not sure if they had any BSL intepreters? I didn’t see any mention of it. How would this work if someone needed to bring their own interpreter? Would they have to pay? hm.
- They had a great way that you could order drinks etc from the bar to your seats as disabled people.
Covid passes were on the NHS app which were a great idea in theory but also completely defeated the point because you only needed to be vaccinated (obviously not everyone can be) and didn’t need to have any proof of a negative lateral flow and or PCR too- it was one or the other. Slightly concerning as Ofcourse you can still get covid with the vaccines. Also I was a bit a concerned that I didn’t see any hand sanitiser machines anywhere inside the theatre (I’m not sure about the foye as I didn’t go in that section). There were a handful of people wearing masks inside. Admittedly I didn’t wear my mask as my POTS symptoms have been a bit all over the place I couldn’t regulate my temperature in there at all plus Trish (tourettes) was playing up.
THE SHOW MUSIC ETC ETC: absolutely incredible!!!!!
Such talented muscians!
The costumes and set were amazing. Quite how they manage to get changed so quickly between each scene I’ll never know!
They all genuinely seemed to be having so much fun!
My tourettes + theatre shows lol.